Book Review: The Ministry of Utmost Happiness

This is a very interesting story, well told. It features a fascinating, if somewhat confusing at times, array of characters, including a transgender protagonist, a courageous freedom fighter, an orphan adopted and raised by loving though unorthodox women, a renowned TV journalist and many more. Set in modern-day India and Kashimir, it has a wide range of themes that are insightful and thought-provoking, including reflections on subjects as grandiose as the human condition and as down to earth as contemporary politics. Yet, all this said, I can’t say I loved the book. It strikes me as one of those pieces of literature that some readers will find lofty and full of insight and meaning. Yet, I found myself wondering why I couldn’t much like any of the characters, and while I ‘recoiled at some of the things that happen to particular individuals, I never felt a personal connection to their troubles or difficulties, nor a great joy when good things happen. It all seemed kind of arm’s length and antiseptic. I .ultimately found this a great book to read, but not one I particularly liked.

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